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Lerk last won the day on June 2 2016

Lerk had the most liked content!

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Strong Minded
  • Birthday 08/18/1960

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    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed last year, but knowing how badly that was going to go, I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

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  1. The Wrath of God

    Ah, life in the closet! Fodder for blog posts! Sunday morning's sermon was called "Motivations for Holy Conduct." Sermons usually have 3 main points, and number three, which the most time was spent on, was "The Wrath of God." This was pretty ironic, because I spend my time during the sermon reading in the Nook app on my phone. Right now I'm reading "The God Delusion," and I'm in chapter 7, "The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist". Part of the chapter deals with the wrath of this supposed god. So while the preacher is droning on about how afraid we ought to be of going to Hell, and therefore motivated to do good, I'm reading a chapter that directly dismantles these arguments. The wrath of Yahweh presented in the Bible has him bringing about natural disasters, or instructing the Jewish army to perpetrate war crimes (killing all men, women, and children, except for virgins, whom they could take home and rape), or punishing the wrong people -- Abraham passes Sarah off as his sister instead of his wife (twice), and the kings who take her into their harems are punished, rather than Abraham, who told the lie because he was afraid they'd kill him to take her if they knew she was his wife. Yahweh also gets really upset when Israel or Judah starts to follow one of his brothers, such as Baal. He'll wipe out a bunch of people just because he's jealous. It even says his name is "Jealous!" Many modern theologians would protest that these stories are just metaphors for something. Of course, I'm in a fundamentalist church, so the preacher insists that these stories are real. Regardless, there's no moral lesson in these passages. The god depicted is capricious, unfair, and just plain evil. The Old Testament in no way depicts modern morality, even though fundamentalists portray the book as being 100% consistent from beginning to end. This god of the Old Testament was ruthless and evil, and if he were real, we certainly would be afraid of his wrath, and on pins and needles because we would never know what little thing we do in ignorance might piss him off. In the New Testament, we're supposedly forgiven because Jesus suffered in our place. The only thing is, "salvation" seems to be a sort-of light switch, constantly turning off and on. If I mess up, I'm headed for Hell until I repent. Not that anyone would directly say that, but it's implied in every sermon. I suppose the most ironic thing about this "motivator for being holy" is that it's entirely fear based. God, in this picture, is an abuser. He's irrationally angry and will send you to eternal punishment ("where the worm dieth not") for really minor infractions, and for things that are considered sinful for no logical reason. It isn't a "works salvation," but it is. You can't earn salvation, but you have to try. You can be a really good person, do all of the things Yahweh insists upon, and still go to Hell because, well, works don't really count -- thought crimes will get you. Your church has an organ! Sorry, you're going to Hell! Oh, you thought you were saved before your were baptized? Sorry, your obedience doesn't count... off to Hell for you, too! Illogical. But we aren't supposed to trust our own judgment, we're supposed to figure out what this inconsistent book is trying to tell us. In Ron Reagan's FFRF ad, he concludes by saying "Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in Hell." When I first heard that I wasn't sure about its effectiveness, because to Christians this would sound arrogant. But the truth is that there's no reason to be afraid of burning in Hell. There's no reason to fear the wrath of a mythological being. In my imaginary conversations with Christians, I would ask them if they were afraid that Zeus would strike them with lightning. Their answer, of course, would be "no." Why? "Because Zeus isn't real." But aren't you afraid that he'll strike you with lightning for saying he isn't real? "Well, no, because he can't, because he isn't real!" Exactly! Yahweh can't send me to Hell because he isn't real. He can't get mad at me for saying he isn't real, because he isn't real! If you aren't afraid of Greek gods, you shouldn't be afraid of Hebrew gods, either.
  2. #MeToo: Awareness Is Only A Beginning

    The awareness factor should be huge. Although there is some backlash -- people claiming it isn't really happening (especially the harassment) or claiming that some things don't count, the fact is that society is beginning to talk about it out loud, and that by itself should cause people who are becoming adults to refrain from instigating it because instead of seeing it being accepted (and therefore emulating it) they'll see it as being unacceptable. Peer pressure is shifting away from participation in sexual harassment and toward shame of perpetrators.
  3. Came Out Again

    We make the best decision we can based on the information we have. When trying to guess how our decisions are going to play out when it comes to other people's ideas and emotions, it's awfully hard to guess. It's working out pretty comfortably for me when people think I'm a "struggling" Christian. Perhaps some day I can leave it all behind. For now, when they ask me how I'm doing and I know they mean "spiritually" (even though that's not a real thing), I say "I'm okay." One person recently followed up with "really?" and I said "yeah, I'm good." I don't think she believed me, but it's the absolute truth! I'm actually great when it comes to "faith." I don't have one bit of it... they're the ones with the problems!
  4. Backsliding Atheists

    A backsliding Christian is one who goes to church but who sits near the back and leaves as soon as the service is over. They aren't really interested in that life anymore but they show up at church as an obligation. In that sense, there was a period when I didn't feel the need to frequent this site or to listen to atheist podcasts, so I suppose I back-slid there for awhile! But the Christian culture I live in is so relentless that I find myself needing some of this again.
  5. Are We Still Just Believers But With No God?

    I'm not broken, and I don't need fixing! I could use some improvements, of course, but that comes through paying attention and learning. For some reason the idea that I was broken never really got to me in the first place. I became a Christian because it's what I thought I was supposed to do, not because I felt any particular guilt.
  6. Christians After Harvey

    Ah, the joys of being semi-closeted! I knew I'd hear some ridiculous stuff after hurricane Harvey hit our area. My wife's sister and her husband lost their home. They're insured, but the house was paid off and they intended to live in it until their kids told them they were too old to be on their own. It's going to be a multiple-months long headache rebuilding. They're with us for the moment, and she was in Walmart the other day waiting for the next self-check register when the woman ahead of her randomly spouted off that she thought all of the events had been good for us, because it brought us all together. My sister-in-law replied that her house was literally under water, and she didn't think that whatever social impact it may have had was worth it. Of course, that wasn't a Christiany opinion that the woman had, just a generally clueless one. Then there's the facebook share of an article claiming that this must have been a miracle, because only about 60 lives were lost and with a flood this size you might have expected 1000 or more. So, what, your god underestimated the number of angels he needed to save people, and sent 60 too few? Or maybe 59 too few, because that husband and wife in Katy -- the husband was a beloved pastor -- could have been saved with the help of only one angel. Tell the families of those 60 people that this was a miracle. What a wimpy god you folks believe in! And then there was church Sunday night. In churches of Christ they don't believe in miracles, but they do believe in divine providence (which really is just miracles that aren't obvious). So the preacher was talking about "the chastening of the Lord" and about how sometimes problems are the Lord's chastening, and sometimes they aren't. He talked about how ol' Yahweh said that Satan had incited him against Job, even though Satan was the one doing the work. So Yahweh sort-of took credit for the actions of Satan. The conclusion of the lesson was that it's impossible to tell whether it was random chance, the work of Satan but allowed by God, or the work of God himself trying to bring about some eternal good, but that we should use it to strengthen our faith. Because what really matters is salvation, of course, eternal life, not this temporary life on this wild and woolly planet Earth. I wonder when people say things like that if there's any cognitive dissonance. Or maybe it's evidence that he's found a way to get rid of the cognitive dissonance. But I don't think he knows what he said, which is that is that it's impossible to tell the difference in a world with this kind of god in charge and in a world without one. There are no obvious happenings that would show us that there are invisible helpers (or invisible hinderers). Church-of-Christ folks know this, yet they still believe! My sister-in-law and her husband have been going through a lot in the last few years, and just a week ago a major difficulty in their life was worked out. They thought they were finally going to get some rest. For one day. She basically said that she figured she'd learned enough patience, and didn't need any more training. I think maybe she has some doubts. But she'll shove them down and get on with her life, and continue practicing her mythology. They'll continue to live a life where they take care of way more than their share of their own and other people's burdens, and never see that it's they who are "angels," not any invisible beings. They'll attribute their own strength to the help of this invisible being, despite the clear evidence in their own lives that that god doesn't exist.
  7. I want to scream! So here goes. I live in the Houston area. My neighborhood is fine, but that's somewhat rare. I know a lot of people who were flooded. And I was raised in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area, who were very hard hit last night. My sister's house had 1/2" of water which they can deal with, and my sister-in-law currently has water rising and almost in the house. They're still in it but may call the sheriff for a boat rescue soon. There is no way for me to get there now because I-10 has rivers running across it in at least 4 places between here and there, but hopefully by Saturday I'll be able to go. But here's the rant. Someone added me to a group of NI-Church of Christ members that was created to help other NI-Church of Christ members who have needs because of the flooding. Money for some. A place to stay for others. That's awesome! But someone in the group said "thank God for times like these. They bring us so much closer together." STFU! In Port Arthur, I saw a facebook post that a woman I went to high school with was stuck, with her sister and 1 year old nephew, on her roof in need of rescue. The Coast Guard got there and rescued them. On the post saying they were safe, someone -- of course -- said "thank GOD!" Seriously?????? WHAT THE FUCK????? People died here! The house we sold two years ago flooded due to that neighborhood receiving over 50 inches of rain! If this god of yours is real, don't you think he can stop the hurricane? Does he only have the ability to send people in boats? What kind of pitiful deity is this? I am thankful to these people in the area who have boats and who went out and spent a couple of days rescuing people. A group from Louisiana calling themselves The Cajun Navy come to Houston with their boats and performed hundreds or thousands of rescues. PEOPLE ARE AWESOME! PEOPLE help people and they help other animals as well. Your stupid god doesn't help anybody because he can't. HE ISN'T REAL! This should be painfully obvious by now. Rant over, but I don't feel better. Edit to add: And then there's this. In Beaumont, a toddler was rescued clinging to her dead mother's back floating toward a railroad trestle which, had the rescuers not gotten there, would have knocked the child into the water as well. Sure, there's a god. Those angels are working overtime, aren't they. I'm crying now. This is not a good day.
  8. What Is Faith?

    Mark Twain supposedly said "Faith is believin' what you know ain't so." Peter Boghossian, in "A Manual for Creating Atheists," insists that faith is pretending to know things that you don't know. And he insists that other definitions of faith, for example faith in a person's ability to do something, are not really faith, because they're based on your knowledge of the person's ability and history. I think he's wrong to say that this definition of the word is invalid, because it's certainly how it's used most of the time. What he's trying to do is get people to see that that sort of faith does not equal faith in the Biblical sense. That's true -- it's a different thing, and perhaps it gives people who have religious faith (belief in gods and spirits and miracles) some reason to think that their faith is reasonable, because the same word has a meaning that reflects faith justified by evidence. But what does the Bible actually say? Well, most everyone has heard the verse: Hebrews 11:1 -- "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Christians (and many non-Christians) can quote this off the top of their heads. But what does it actually mean? It is the Biblical definition of faith. What is it getting at? This verse begins the passage often referred to as the "Hall of Faith." The Hebrew writer goes on to talk about what certain Old Testament heroes did because they had faith. Generally speaking, the point is that they couldn't see the future things that their god had promised them, but they believed it anyway, and acted accordingly. The story of Joseph is that on his deathbed he gave instructions that when Israel would leave Egypt, they should take his bones with them to the land of promise. They weren't even in captivity yet. There weren't enough of them to be a nation yet. But he believed that his descendants would eventually go to the land that their god had promised them, and he wanted to be buried there. So let's break that definition down. "The substance of things hoped for." If you're hoping for something but you don't have it, have never seen it, and nobody has ever seen it, then there is no "substance" to it. Faith takes the place of substance, allowing the believer to, well, believe. "The evidence of things not seen." This is essentially redundant. What is evidence? Evidence is the set of facts, observations about either physical specimens or the leftover effects of physical processes, that lead one to believe a certain thing exists, or a certain event happened. But "evidence of things not seen" implies belief without what would normally lead to belief. To put it more succinctly, faith is a substitute for substance, and a substitute for evidence. So Boghossian's definition fits the Bible definition here. Twain, of course, was jesting. People don't know that what they have faith in isn't really so, but his statement is a way to call attention to the fact that Biblical faith allows people to believe things that they can't possibly know, and, in fact, to believe things that are demonstrably false. There's no dome above the Earth, as early Bible passages describe. The Universe is 13.8 billion years old, not the 6000-10000 you would calculate using the Bible, and it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The Hebrew writer was trying to assure his readers that there is an afterlife. There's no evidence for this at all, so in order to believe it one must accept that the New Testament writers knew it to be true. Yet the Hebrew writer himself has no confidence other than faith -- he substitutes faith for evidence, and even tells us that's what he's doing. Not very confidence inspiring, is it?
  9. Fundumentality

    I've said on occasion that I'm glad I was raised in a fundamentalist church (Non-institutional Church of Christ, to be specific). The reason I'm glad is that if I had been raised in a mainline Christian denomination, I might never have had a reason to question what I believed. So what is it about "fundamentalism"? How am I defining that? Essentially, it's the belief that the Bible is the word of Yahweh, that every word, while written by people, was overseen by the Holy Spirit and therefore is exactly what Yahweh wants to convey. The Bible itself does not assert such a thing anywhere. Peter does refer to the writings of Paul as "scripture" at one point, but that's about all you've got. The reason fundamentalists have this belief is that they assert that Yahweh could have made "his" book perfect, without error, and 100% consistent from beginning to end; because he could have, he would have, and therefore he did. That's it! But to hold this belief, fundamentalists must impose whatever beliefs they've settled on, on top of every passage in the Bible, whether it really fits or not. The truth is that beliefs of the Old Testament writers barely resemble the beliefs of the New Testament writers. And the writers of the first books of the OT had substantially different beliefs than the writers of the later books of the OT. And all you have to do to figure this out is to start at the beginning and read it with an open mind. I say "all you have to do" as if it's easy -- it isn't. When you've spent your entire life being taught that it must all fit, and you have all of the "answers" to make it fit, it's pretty hard to read without imposing the things you've already been taught upon it. But it can be done. If you're interested, start with these two things: Genesis 3 -- There's no "Satan" here. Yes, Jesus in the NT says something that may lead you to believe that Satan is that serpent, but ignore that for a few minutes and just read the chapter. "The serpent was more subtle than the beasts of the field." Does that sound like Satan did this, or is it just that snakes are sneaky? No, you don't and I don't believe snakes are smart enough to be sneaky, but the author did. Deuteronomy 32 -- Read this from the ESV. The ESV uses the Septuagint here, which is older than the Masoretic, and the Septuagint agrees with the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Oh, they told you the Dead Sea Scrolls didn't have any significant differences from the Masoretic? Not so! Especially here!) In this passage, we see that the Most High God divided the people of earth into nations based on the number of his sons. Each got a portion, or a nation. And the Lord's (aka Yahweh) portion were the descendants of Jacob. Yahwah/Jehovah/The Lord/Adonai INHERITED Israel. The rest of the chapter explains how The Lord is much better at leading his people than his brother gods are. The other Bible versions use the Masoretic text here, and that version of the Hebrew Scriptures came along several hundred years after the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and its compilers deliberately altered the text here to align with their belief that there was only one god. Those two passages alone should be enough to disabuse anyone of the idea that the Bible is 100% consistent. And if you're a fundamentalist like I was, that's enough by itself to turn you into a non-Christian and allow you to start looking for the truth.
  10. Jews and Christians-End Times Stuff

    Tell'em Jesus said "my kingdom is not of this world." Tell'em that if it was Jesus plan to set up an earthly kingdom, that means he failed and he's going to have to come back and try again. Do they believe their lord and savior failed?
  11. Finding life purpose is hard!

    I agree. There's no such thing as "meaning" in the Biblical sense, which is an externally imposed meaning. Ecclesiastes says that the fear God and keep his commandments is the whole of man. That's bullshit, of course. We don't have a purpose for being put here, because we weren't put here. We weren't born for the reason of fulfilling some future purpose. But that's not to say that life is futile! In fact, it's the opposite. If our purpose is to please a creator god, then life is truly futile. But now that we know there are no such things as gods, that frees us up to simply enjoy our lives. Oh, sure, there are always going to be some unenjoyable things in life, but wow, there's so much to look forward to! I like my job. I'm not anybody's boss and at age 57 I'm way past the point that I'll ever climb the ladder, but I can see exactly what part I play in the big picture, both for the company, and the part my company plays in the economy. I'm not irreplaceable, which is good, because I'd like to retire in 8 years or so. Until then, having the job makes me feel like a productive member of society, and it provides me the funds to enjoy life outside of work. We've traveled to the West coast 3 times since December to see our grandchildren! Two are just babies, but the older one is 3 and she leaned over on my shoulder at lunch one day and -- completely unprompted -- said "Pops, I love you!" Who needs an eternal purpose when you have that?!?!? So being young, you don't have that yet, but you have friends, you're about to start college and you'll learn a lot and have new (hopefully non-Christian) friends, and you'll be on your way in life. Look for the joy in it... there's your purpose.
  12. I like this! There's no way I can be a cultural Christian, having been raised in a fundy church. I suppose if my family would convert to liberal Christianity, some of it might be fun. But really no better than being a cultural American. Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham and presents don't have to be associated with religion. About the only good thing would be the music, in some cases. But right now, I hate the acapella Church of Christ music that I used to think was awesome. A church where there's an orchestra and no singers might be nice! On the other hand, season tickets to the symphony would be a lot cheaper than a weekly contribution to a church.
  13. Living without absolution

    No, I don't think that's normal at all. I agree with the other commenters here. Forgiving is more normal than not forgiving. Forgiveness isn't a Christian thing, it's a human thing. If you can let things slide that he does that you don't like, then he can do the same. Besides, who says the things he doesn't like are even justified! You have every bit as much right to be you as he does to be him! It's also normal to stand up for yourself. Now that's something Christianity doesn't teach! You may very well overlook his habits that you don't care for, but don't overlook his being hard on you. Don't forgive his lack of forgiveness. Let him know he needs to cut it out.
  14. Links

    This isn't a blog post, really, just a place for a couple of bookmarks. I follow Captain Cassidy on Twitter, who writes the blog "Roll to Disbelieve" on patheos. She recently tweeted a link to an older blog post of her own called The Four Facts of the Resurrection (Aren’t) Here, she discusses how four "facts" about the resurrection that even non-believers don't dispute, aren't facts at all, aren't well attested, and are certainly not accepted by non-believers. These facts are: 1. Jesus’ burial 2. the discovery of his empty tomb 3. his post-mortem appearances 4. the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection. And in that post, she links a site discussion the lack of ancient sources that reference Jesus. That site discusses what Christian apologists call the 10 / 42 argument, which claims that there are more ancient attestations of Jesus than there are for Tiberius Caesar. Not surprisingly, this turns out to be not even remotely true. Find that web page here: Ten Reasons to Reject the Apologetic 10/42 Source Slogan Cheers! Update: I think I'll use this post for interesting links. Here's one from Bob Seidensticker's blog Cross Examined about the ancient "combat myths" of the creation, and how the Bible actually describes Israel's version, even though Christians don't recognize it. (These are considered "difficult passages" because they don't agree with Christian belief, so Christians just write them off as "difficult".) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/02/combat-myth-the-curious-story-of-yahweh-and-the-gods-who-preceded-him-2/ Here's the Wikipedia entry on Yahweh explaining where he came from. Seems he wasn't originally an Canaanite god, but may have come from Egypt. I need to read more about this. Israel was Canaanite nation, worshiping "El" (IsraEL), El having had 70 sons (among whom Baal is the most prominent). Yahweh was eventually conflated with El. I'm not sure how this works with Deuteronomy 32 (though that passage is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry).